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365 Reasons to Love Comics #126

This comics character captured the essence of “Snakes on a Plane” wayyy before that movie was ever conceived. What do I mean? Click on, my friends!

5/6/07

126. Elf with a Gun

Elf with a Gun.jpg

The “Elf with a Gun” concept is the brainchild of Steve Gerber, so you know right away that it must be both weird and cool.

The Elf first appeared during Gerber’s Defenders run. His gimmick was that he was an elf, and he had a gun, and he shot random people. His purpose was never explained– by Gerber, anyway. Later writers brought up this whole convoluted mess involving other elves and magic and Tribunals and Time Agencies and all this stuff. The original, “Melf,” was killed by getting hit with a truck. Since the Defenders series wrapped up, the Elf– or an Elf– has had a few cameos. One of ‘em even faced off against KISS in a Marvel Super Special.

Gerber’s original intention, however, was for the Elf to not make any sense at all. In fact, he was completely random. I’ve heard such things that he was tossed in when the plot was dragging, or when Sal Buscema wanted to draw something else. However, the Marvel Appendix explains it the best, I think:

“In interviews, Gerber would reveal that the Elf was nothing more than a backhanded metaphor for the chaotic and inexplicable nature of everyday existence, the “beast in the jungle” that you can spend a lifetime planning for but which still comes as a surprise or maybe never comes at all.”

I find it extremely amusing that Elf with a Gun was really a Henry James reference all along.

Elf with a Gun 2.jpgElf with a Gun 3.jpg

When it comes right down to it, the Elf with a Gun follows the same principle as Snakes on a Plane– the concept’s awesomeness is inherent in its name. I mean, it’s a sarcastic Elf. And he has a gun. Brilliant!

Really, that’s all I’ve got. There’s buckets of more info at that Marvel Appendix entry, though, so check that out.

15 Comments

I have had it with this muthaf***ing elf with this muthaf***ing gun!

Now I kind of wish the elf had shot the Scourge of the Underworld.

I guess it is now incumbent upon me to buy those ESSENTIAL DEFENDERS books … if only to do my part to make sure they keep putting them out long enough to get to “elf with a gun”.

Dang you, Steve Gerber!

“The Elf first appeared during Gerber’s Defenders run. His gimmick was that he was an elf, and he had a gun, and he shot random people. His purpose was never explained– by Gerber, anyway. Later writers brought up this whole convoluted mess involving other elves and magic and Tribunals and Time Agencies and all this stuff. The original, “Melf,” was killed by getting hit with a truck. Since the Defenders series wrapped up, the Elf– or an Elf– has had a few cameos since then. One of ‘em even faced off against KISS in a Marvel Super Special.

Gerber’s original intention, however, was for the Elf to not make any sense at all. In fact, he was completely random. I’ve heard such things that he was tossed in when the plot was dragging, or when Sal Buscema wanted to draw something else.”

Which is yet another example of how continuity-driven, “it all must FIT!” writing can really screw up an otherwise enjoyable concept.

Sometimes an elf with a gun is just an elf with a gun.

Omar Karindu

May 6, 2007 at 7:51 pm

David Kraft understood it at least; his original resolution to the Elf story was to depict said Elf about to shoot a paperboy right outside Defenders HQ, presumably leading to a confrontation between Elf and Defenders….

And then a truck ran the little bastard over. Beautfully done, really.

Elf with a Gun really freaked me out as an eight-year-old, and I’ve been waiting on these Essential Defenders to come out so I can finally learn his story (oh, and Nebulon’s). What issue is the hit-and-run incident? I’ll be able to finally put my ancient eight-year-old’s neurosis behind me.

That said, should anybody ever sneak up on me dressed as an elf with a gun, I don’t think I should be held responsible for my actions.

This was probably my least expected, and thus so far my favorite Reason to Love Comics–thanks!

Maybe Elf With a Gun is preparing his comeback, it hasn’t been revealed who shot Cap yet is it?

Not to detract from the awesomeness of Elf with a Gun, but does anybody know why Beast is holding a puppy on that cover? I know that some heroes like to spring into action with beloved furry companions (Ka-Zar, for instance), but you’d think that Beast would be the last person to need one.

The Beast had just picked up the puppy (named Sassafrass, I believe). Cause every superhero needs a cute sidekick.

I feel like I missed out on my childhood. Elf with a gun???? My God, that could be the greatest thing ever. Must find the Essential Defenders books…. now.

SanctumSanctorumComix

May 7, 2007 at 9:38 am

Bizarre.

I just read that Marvel Appendix entry on Saturday the 5th, while researching that whole “Tribunal” thing for someone on the Defenders Message Board.

And now he pops up HERE, a day later, brandishing his firearm at me/us…

Something tells me that Gerber’s “random act of fate” explanation doesn’t quite gel with the coincidental nature of this.

BTW… Elf with a Gun did appear in a few other places.
(A Marvel Team-Up with Spider-Man, Howard the Duck & Gambit and that tied into a Savage Dragon / Destroyer Duck team up.)

I’m pretty sure that the Appendix lists those appearances as well.

Hey!
HERE’s a weird Comic Urban legend for you guys…
Why is it that J.M. DeMatties (who was the writer who came up with the whole convoluted “Tribunal/Time Agents/Elf” thing) seems to have a track record of being the last writer on about a billion comic titles (from several companies) when the title gets the AX.

I can think of quite a few (past and recent) instances, including this run of The Defenders.

Is he some form of Comic Book (not-so)Grim Reaper?

Look into that.

~P~
P-TOR

Kent Grainger

May 7, 2007 at 12:44 pm

Is it just me or does the picture of the Elf With The Gun in the green outfit look really really REALLY like Sal Buscema?

I remember a band called “Pistol-packing Santa, and his gun-toting elves” who named themselves after a Weekly World News headline…

Random Stranger

May 9, 2007 at 3:14 pm

P-TOR, there’s usually two reasons you see that kind of thing.

First, the Peter David reason, the writer could be pitching a new direction on a slumping book or character. Sometimes changing things up works; more often than not it doesn’t. Editors are willing to give it a chance, though, since a new direction has better odds than another slowly fading series. I suspect DeMatties falls into this category since his joining a book often sends it in a very different direction.

The second alternative is the Tony Danza reason. Some people are just likable and easy to work with. Tony Danza kept getting sitcoms just because he’s an affable guy in person. After working with prima donnas sometimes the nice guy is a good change. Of course being nice isn’t going to get you top tier stuff so the books on the bubble get handed out like that.

The very first Defenders I ever read was the one with the Elf getting run over. (I think it was #47.) Some years later I read the DeMatties ones that had all the stuff with the Tribunal and all that. I still haven’t ever read a Gerber one. I can’t find them cheap enough for me.

Although I’m responding a couple years late here, I think it needs to be said that DeMatteis was NOT the last writer on Defenders. Peter Gillis was; he started with #132 and continued until the end with #152. And some of the stuff he wrote was even better than DeMatteis. (They were both great. I hate it that all the Defenders nostalgia since then seems to be centered on the boring original team of Namor, Hulk, and Strange. The DeMatteis and Gillis runs were the REAL Defenders.)

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